In this episode of The Lab, Daddy Troy talks with filmmaker Doug Block to learn more about his documentary "The Kids Grow Up". The film chronicles Doug's relationship with his daughter over the first 18 years of her life, but concentrates primarily on her last year at home before leaving for college. The two dads also discuss the filmmaking process for this movie and the balance between being a father and filmmaker.
Daddy Troy: Hey welcome back to DadLabs, I'm Daddy Troy and today I'm with Doug Block. Doug Block's a filmmaker. He's got a film coming out called "The Kids Grow Up". And it's about your journey with your daughter, the parenting journey as well as a journey of your daughter. Doug Block Well, it's a personal documentary about my relationship with my daughter over the first 18 years of her life. But it mostly focuses on her last year at home before she left for college. So it's about that transition period in the life of a parent where you have to learn to let go of your child, in my case my only child. Daddy Troy: And I think as a dad, who just sent my daughter off to kindergarten I can only imagine what it's going to feel like to send her off to college. Doug Block: Yeah, you know, it's brutal, all these different stages. There are stages of letting go for sure. I remember when Lissy got rid of her milk bottle. Decided she didn't need a milk bottle anymore. So there went those evenings sitting on my lap, that nightly ritual. It was devastating. Yeah, it's tough because it leads into the empty nest. What I learned from making the film is just how emotional and traumatic it is for parents. Daddy Troy: Do you get that response when you talk to parents about empty nesters, that same emotional response? Doug Block: Yeah, it's pretty deep and it's really right under the surface. It's just really hard because kids become the central part of your life, of your marriage. I mean, there's a reason why lots of couples get divorced as soon as the kids are out of then house. Daddy Troy: Tell us a little bit about the filming process. What's the youngest image you have of your daughter in this film? Doug Block: I think when she was about 9 months old. Daddy Troy: Did you guys have a ritual? Every year you'd sit down and actually do a formal interview or just happened organically? Doug Block: t just kind of happened organically. And you know it wasn't with a film in mind. It was more like it would be a really great archive to have of her growing up. Daddy Troy: I know in the social media world of today when everybody shares family pictures online and family stories. I think your story's actually relevant to all parents in the following sense that - Do I interview my child? Do I put my child's stuff out there for the world to see? And did she agree to all this? At what point did you treat her like an adult where she could say yes or no? At any point, could she put the hammer down and say no, I don't want this going on. Doug Block: She could always put the hammer down and say no. Actually there was a three year period before her senior year when she wouldn't let me videotape anything. She was into it totally as a kid growing up and then she hit 13 and said, "Dad, don't shoot." I was as surprised as any that she agreed to let me film her senior year. But when it came time for her to leave like the week or two before she left, she was really stressed out and my filming was stressing her out more. And she had a complete meltdown on camera in the film. She ultimately gave her permission and she signed the release form. Daddy Troy: So you the father had your daughter sign a release form? That's fascinating. And she was 9 at that point? Doug Block: No, I could have done it at 9. I actually waited until she turned 18 and could legally do this on her own. Daddy Troy: Right, right. Doug Block: When you make these kinds of personal films, it's a delicate juggling act between being a father and being a filmmaker. But you have to be a father first. And go okay, "Is this going to be okay for my kid?" Daddy Troy: So the name of the documentary is "The Kids Grow Up". And opening in theaters as well as going to be seen on HBO. And then is there a web page or a Facebook page dedicated to it? Doug Block: TheKidsGrowUp.com. Daddy Troy: And we'll throw links to it over in the forum at DadLabs.com. We've started a new forum on films about families. So you should check that out. Well thanks so much for coming today. I really appreciate it. We look forward to seeing the opening. Doug Block: Thanks Troy.